The bonding of two materials through hydroxide-catalyzed hydration/dehydration is achieved at room temperature by applying hydroxide ions to at least one of the two bonding surfaces and by placing the surfaces sufficiently close to each other to form a chemical bond between them. The surfaces may be placed sufficiently close to each other by simply placing one surface on top of the other. A silicate material may also be used as a filling material to help fill gaps between the surfaces caused by surface figure mismatches. A powder of a silica-based or silica-containing material may also be used as an additional filling material. The hydroxide-catalyzed bonding method forms bonds which are not only as precise and transparent as optical contact bonds, but also as strong and reliable as high-temperature frit bonds. The hydroxide-catalyzed bonding method is also simple and inexpensive.